Employers should know which questions are legally allowed in an interview. The question of vaccination status is currently of particular relevance. When is it allowed? And what about questions about criminal records, union membership, or previous salary?
Lie during a a job interview: It is crucial to know what employers in Germany are legally allowed to ask in an interview and what you as an applicant are allowed to refuse an answer or even lie. In principle, a job interview in Germany should only include questions that have a bearing on the possible employment relationship. Questions about pregnancy, disability, or the sexual orientation of applicants are known to be problematic. Recently, the question of vaccination status has gained special relevance.
- Lie during a job interview: right to ask questions or right to lie
- Dispute in lying to allowable question
- Lie during a job interview: Should the employer as about your vaccination status?
- 11 topics where a job applicant can lie about during a job interview in Germany questions
- Summary of forbidden interview questions in Germany
Lie during a job interview: right to ask questions or right to lie
During the application process in Germany, every applicant has personal rights that protect candidates from certain questions. To provide the applicants with an effective tool against inadmissible questions from the employer, case law in Germany grants applicants a so-called “right to lie” in these cases. Applicants are therefore allowed to deliberately answer with untruths. When it comes to the question of the corona vaccination, data protection law and the Infection Protection Act also play a role.
Dispute in lying to allowable question
These lies, which are practically permissible, repeatedly lead to disputes in court: For example, when a pregnant woman applied for a job as a maternity replacement when an employer inquired about the discontinued investigation or when questions about union membership.
On the other hand, an incorrect answer to a legitimately asked question can subsequently constitute grounds for termination or fraudulent misrepresentation. The latter gives the employer the right to contest the employment contract.
Lie during a job interview: Should the employer as about your vaccination status?
The general rule in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland is that companies may only request information from employees in which they have a legitimate or legitimate interest. Companies are not allowed to query information that concerns the private sphere of employees (e.g. illness, pregnancy). As far as querying the vaccination status is concerned, the regulations are not clear. In all three countries, employees can voluntarily disclose their vaccination status.
So far, there are no legal requirements as to what querying the vaccination status during the application process means. If your potential new company asks about your vaccination status as part of your application, it will be in the gray area.
To be able to enter the workplace, employees currently have to document that they meet the 3G rule, which can also be done, for example, via a negative test result. There is, therefore, no obligation to announce the vaccination or recovery status. If employees voluntarily disclose their vaccination or convalescence card, no further access controls are necessary. In the event of an official check of the 3G rules, for example, by an authority, employees must explain their vaccination status.
Accordingly, the vaccination status of employees may be queried in companies or facilities in which particularly vulnerable groups of people are cared for.
This applies to, among other things:
- daycare centers
- schools and other educational establishments
- (Nursing) homes
- Ambulatory care services
- Medical institutions
11 topics where a job applicant can lie about during a job interview in Germany questions
The question of the vaccination status is not the only question that HR professionals are interested in during the application process. Previous illnesses, criminal convictions or union membership are also repeatedly queried. It is elementary for HR managers to know in which areas a request is allowed and when it is better not to investigate further. A brief overview of the right to ask questions:
1. Professional skills:
Questions about professional and technical skills, knowledge, and experience as well as previous professional career, exam, and certificate grades may be asked without restriction.
The question of whether an applicant will marry in the foreseeable future is inadmissible.
3. State of health
Questions about previous illnesses are only permissible insofar as there is an interest in answering them in individual cases for work, for the company, and the other employees.
4. Union membership
As a rule, the employer is not allowed to ask about union membership before hiring, not even to determine whether you are bound by a collective bargaining agreement – although the latter is disputed in the labor law literature.
In any case, the question of whether or not you are bound by a collective bargaining agreement can be raised after you have been hired if this is unavoidable for the calculation of wages or to comply with other collective bargaining regulations. The question of union membership is permissible for so-called trend companies or church institutions according to § 118 BetrVG.
5. Amount of the previous salary
The question of the salary received from the previous employer is, in any case, inadmissible if the previous salary for the desired position is not meaningful and the applicant has not voluntarily requested it as the minimum salary for the new position.
6. Religious or party affiliation
As a general rule, no questions may be asked about this during the entire application process. However, there are exceptions for tendencies, such as church institutions or party newspaper publishers.
In hiring negotiations, the question of pregnancy is generally inadmissible. The woman may untruthfully deny the inadmissible question about the pregnancy.
8. (Severe) disability
Neither about a disability nor about being severely disabled should be asked. The ban on discrimination in Section 81 (2) SGB IX for the severely disabled and those of equal status is associated with a far-reaching obligation to pay compensation or damages. This also applies in particular to applicants who meet the – more extensive – characteristic of “disability” within the meaning of § 1 AGG.
9. Financial circumstances
In principle, the employer may not ask about this. Something else only applies to employees who are to be employed in a special relationship of trust and who either have to handle money or who are at risk of bribery or the betrayal of secrets.
10. Criminal record
The employer may only ask about it if and to the extent that the future work of the applicant requires it. For example, a driver can be asked about previous convictions for traffic offenses. The applicant may describe himself as “not convicted” and does not need to disclose the facts on which the conviction is based if the criminal record is not (or no longer) entered in the Federal Central Register or is not included in the certificate of good conduct.
11. Non-competition clauses
The employer may ask whether the applicant has entered into a legally effective non-competition clause with a previous employer that restricts work in the company of the new employer. The employee must even point out such a non-competition clause.
Summary of forbidden interview questions in Germany
Employers have a fundamental right to ask questions. Applicants, in turn, have a right to privacy and protection from discrimination under the General Equal Treatment Act ( AGG ). Accordingly, there are some inadmissible questions in the interview. You don’t have to answer them or you can answer with lies.
Family planning questions
Questions about the health situation
- Questions about the current state of health
- Questions about an existing disability
- Questions about past illnesses (including duration)
- Questions about serious illnesses in the family
Questions about private views
- Questions about religion and denomination
- Party affiliation questions
- Questions about union membership
General questions about the person
- age questions
- Questions about origin
- Questions about criminal records or jail time
- Questions about handling money
- Questions about possible debt
- Questions about financial circumstances
- Questions about private life in general
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